Farley manufacturer plans $4.3 million expansion with 34 new jobs

FARLEY, Iowa — Plans are in motion for a Farley manufacturer to grow, several months after officials there completed another expansion project.

Owners of Behnke Enterprises plan to invest about $4.3 million into the Farley plant. The project would expand the facility by 18,750 square feet and add 34 new jobs.

The family-run company manufactures trailers for customers across the U.S. It was founded in 1987 in Holy Cross, Iowa, before moving to Farley 11 years later.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Chad Behnke, owner of Behnke Enterprises. “There’s going to be some very high-tech equipment that’s going to be added, very computer-based. And we’re going to be creating some very high-quality jobs.”

At a Tuesday meeting, Farley City Council members unanimously endorsed a resolution of support for Behnke to receive state assistance for the project and directed the city administrator to work on a development agreement for tax increment finance support. Terms of the TIF agreement were not discussed at the meeting, but a 10-year, 80% tax rebate on new valuation of the property has been proposed.

The TIF agreement would come back to council members for consideration in May.

Jason White, vice president of business services at Greater Dubuque Development Corp., said Behnke is requesting $252,000 in tax refunds from the state. The city TIF agreement will meet the local match requirement for the state funds. Other funds for the expansion will come from Behnke’s resources.

The expansion project is expected to go before the Iowa Economic Development Authority board on Friday, April 22. State funding could come from the state’s High-Quality Jobs program, which in this case requires 19 of Behnke’s proposed 34 new jobs to meet the required wage threshold of $21.13 per hour.

Behnke Enterprises currently employs about 180 people in Farley, Behnke said. The company plans to add 15 welders, nine assemblers, six material handlers and four laser operators.

Behnke said the new space would be part of the company’s expansion of its laser equipment.

“We’re basically just keeping up with demands,” he said. “The past few years have been very busy, and we’ve expanded into some new markets that created demand.”

Those new markets include expanding from serving 20 to 25 states to reaching customers in most of the continental U.S., he said.

The proposed project marks the second large expansion the company has seen in the past two years. A 100,000-square-foot expansion project that began in 2020 was completed last fall.

While the 2020 expansion project increased the company’s infrastructure, the added laser equipment wasn’t part of that project, Behnke said.

“This is right on the coattails of the previous addition,” he said. “… The tech of these machines has really progressed over the years. It makes everyone’s lives easier.”

White also noted that Behnke Enterprises has continued to expand over the years, adding that he is excited the company plans to continue growing in Dubuque County.

“They’re the top employer in Farley and one of the top employers in western Dubuque County, and they continue to create good employment opportunities,” White said.

Farley Mayor Jay Hefel said Behnke Enterprises has been expanding its footprint in Farley for years and that this will be yet another positive addition.

Hefel also said the new jobs will be good for the community, though he noted that many companies currently are struggling to hire workers.

“I’m hoping they can fill those and continue to grow,” he said. “As mayor, I can’t be more excited about Behnke expanding once again. It’s been a great addition to Farley. They’ve been great to work with and, as a city, we will continue to work with the Behnke family.”